Following last week attack on officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on voters registration exercise in Imo State, leading to the death of a staff, the Commission has suspended the exercise in more than 96 centres in Imo and Anambra states.
This is as the Commission said 2673 additional centres were activated to give room for more persons to be registered in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja on Friday.
He said the Commission is concerned about the safety of her personnel and Nigerians who come out to register at the various registration centres.
“We are also concerned about the security of our equipment and materials, including the printed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) made available for collection by registered voters.”
Lamenting recent incidents involving staff and facilities as worrisome, he said: “Following the unfortunate incident in Imo State last week, the Commission suspended the CVR exercise in all the 54 additional centres in the State.
“The exercise is now restricted to our State and Local Government offices except Ihitte Uboma, Njaba and Osu where the exercise has been suspended for the time being. Similarly, based on the urgency of the situation in Anambra State, the CVR has been suspended in all the 42 additional centres and confined to our State and Local Government offices except Nnewi South and Ogbaru LGAs where the exercise has also been temporarily suspended.
“Furthermore, in Kaduna State, the exercise has been suspended in Jema’a and Kaura as well large areas of Birnin Gwari and Giwa on account of insecurity in the four LGAs. In addition, two of our staff were abducted by bandits but later released in Isa LGA of Sokoto State while on voter registration duty.”
Yakubu said the Commission will keep monitoring and reviewing the situation nationwide, always bearing in mind the imperative of protecting the safety and security of her staff and registrants.
He, however, said despite the security challenges, INEC remains resolute to conduct the 2023 General Election as scheduled.
In doing so, he said every eligible Nigerian must be given the opportunity to vote, including citizens in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
“Happily, the Commission has a standing policy on IDP voting which has been periodically reviewed. In the light of the security challenges around the country and guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission will immediately review the policy to ensure that no internally displaced Nigerian in any part of the country is disenfranchised. The issue of IDPs is one of the issues to be discussed at this meeting,” he said.
The Commission, he said is confident that security agencies have the capacity to deal with the security challenges ahead 2023 General Election.